US Supreme Court to Hear Major Abortion Pill Case in March

The decision in the case could determine whether the abortion pill mifepristone can be prescribed by telemedicine or sent through the mail.

The Supreme Court of the United States, Oct. 7. 2022.
The Supreme Court of the United States, Oct. 7. 2022. (photo: Public Domain / Public Domain)

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that oral arguments in a high-stakes abortion pill case will be heard on March 26. 

The decision in the case could determine whether the abortion pill mifepristone can be prescribed by telemedicine or sent through the mail. 

The Biden administration is challenging a federal court ruling that found that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) did not follow proper testing and safety protocols when it approved the abortion drug in 2000. 

Mifepristone is the first of the two abortion pills that cut off progesterone from the baby, essentially starving the child to death.

In August 2023, the Fifth Circuit Court affirmed a lower court ruling that the FDA must reinstate restrictions on the mifepristone pill in place before 2016. Those restrictions are currently on hold pending the Supreme Court’s decision. The ruling could also determine up to what point in pregnancy is it legal to take mifepristone.

The FDA first approved mifepristone for abortion in 2000 but included some restrictions on dispensation to prevent severe side effects. One restriction was that the drug had to be prescribed and dispensed in person.

That changed in 2021 when the FDA decided that the in-person requirement put a “burden on the health care delivery system.”

Over the years, other restrictions on the drug have been removed. In 2016, the FDA determined that the drug can be used when a woman is pregnant with a child at 70 days gestation. Before 2016, the gestational limit was seven weeks. The FDA also decided in 2016 that non-physicians could prescribe the pill. 

After briefs were filed in the Supreme Court this month, Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Erin Hawley, whose law firm argued the case in the Fifth Circuit Court, called the Biden administration “reckless.”  

“Women and girls should have the ongoing care of a doctor when taking high-risk drugs. But the Biden administration is defending the FDA’s reckless removal of the safety standards it originally deemed necessary for women who use abortion drugs.”

Hawley, whose firm argued the case in the fifth circuit, said, “The FDA’s own label for these drugs says that roughly one in 25 women who take them will end up in the emergency room.” 

“The agency’s removal of in-person doctor visits and consistent, ongoing care has subjected more women to suffering severe, even life-threatening, medical conditions,” she said. 

“Regardless of Americans’ beliefs about abortion, no one should be okay with the FDA leaving girls to take these high-risk drugs all alone. We urge the Supreme Court to hold the FDA accountable and require the agency to reinstate its safety standards,” she said. 

Edward Reginald Frampton, “The Voyage of St. Brendan,” 1908, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, Wisconsin.

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